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How to prevent holiday weight gain? Researchers reveal effective strategy

Researchers with The Obesity Society have found that partaking in daily self-weighing could prevent the dreaded holiday weight gain. 111 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 partook in the new study, which ran from mid-November 2017 to early January 2018.

The results are published in the journal Obesity.

The research team followed up with participants 14 weeks after the intervention. Those who weighed themselves daily either maintained or lost weight during the holiday season. Those who did not weigh themselves daily gained weight.

Participants in the intervention group were instructed to attempt to maintain their baseline weight throughout the holiday season, but were not told how to do so.

“Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they are eating more carefully,” said author Jamie Cooper, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “The subjects self-select how they are going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size-fits-all.”

“People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal,” added second author Michelle vanDellen, an associate professor in the University of Georgia Department of Psychology. “When they see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change. Daily self-weighing ends up doing that for people in a really clear way.”

Weight gained over the holidays can be difficult to lose, and therefore often contributes to annual weight gain, as previous studies have shown. The team hopes to test this new intervention in larger group settings to more accurately examine if daily self-weighing is the key to keeping weight down throughout the holiday season.

“Vacations and holidays are probably the two times of year people are most susceptible to weight gain in a very short period of time,” Cooper concluded. “The holidays can actually have a big impact on someone’s long-term health.”

By Olivia Harvey, Staff Writer

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